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Help me hook up my cable box
August 14, 2012 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Let's see if Mefi can help me hook up my cable when the cable company could not.

I got a self-install kit that I ordered to have cable today.

The instructions came with two sets, one for coaxial setup, and one for composite setup (those cords with multicolored ends).

I first tried the coaxial setup. On each channel, I got my tv's "no signal" message except for channel 3, which was just a blank screen. I called the cable co. He asked if my tv was HDTV. I said yes. He said use the composite instructions instead.

Here, problems begin. The diagrams on the instructions do not match my box, and the cord colors also do not match.

The diagram has the standard 3-cord setup (yellow, red, white) and instructs you to plug them in to the associated holes. The "yellow" one looks particularly important, since "TV Video" next to it, and it's slightly separated from the rest.

On the actual cable box, there is no yellow composite slot separate from the others. just a group of six slot of various colors, all together. There is an *orange* slot separate from the others, but I have no orange cord.

I also have no yellow cord. What they sent me was a set of composite cords consisting of two red (one says video under it, one says audio), one white (audio) blue (video) and green (video).

I called the cable company back. They basically told me to line up the colors I do have, and if it doesn't work, they'd be happy to send out someone to look on Saturday for 30 bucks.

I obviously do not want to do that. I have lined up the colors and it still does not work. I tried with the channels 2, 3, 4, HDMI, Component, and PC. So I thought maybe a mefite cable guru might be able to help me out. I'll describe the panel on my cable box and tv the best I can

I have:

Composite cord with colors and the word "audio" and "video" on each: Two red (one says video under it, one says audio), one white (audio) blue (video) and green (video).

A motorola dch3416 cable box, the back of which looks like this:

http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r76/myglxtacy/dvrjackpak.jpg

That's in black in white. The colors of the six composite slots are LEFT ROW, TOP TO BOTTOM: yellow, white, red. RIGHT ROW, TOP TO BOTTOM: green, blue, red. On the diagram I just linked, there's another slot to the left of the left row which seems to have something plugged into it in the pic. That is orange.

On my TV, there are six vertical composite slots with no accompanying text. they are, from top to bottom, green, blue, red, white, red, yellow.

My TV is an Emerson LC190EM2, which I got secondhand without the instruction booklet. My cable company is Time Warner.

If you've red this far, thanks, and thanks in advance for the help!
posted by mreleganza to Technology (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The manual and other support information are here: http://www.emersonaudiovideo.com/products/product.php?id=24
posted by primethyme at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2012


Component video (red green blue video cables) is different than Composite video (a single yellow cable).

Your TV has component inputs on the side, but your cable box doesn't output that.

You need an HDMI cable.
posted by bensherman at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2012


Save yourself a lot of grief, spend two dollars on an HDMI cable and enjoy yourself. If you need to watch TV now now now, you can spend twenty dollars for the same cable at Radio Shack.
posted by griphus at 11:47 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I misread something on your bable box diagram.

The red (audio) and white are audio cables. The red (video) green and blue cables are video.

Y on the cable box is Green on the TV.
Pb on the cable box is Blue on the TV
Pr on the cable box is Red middle one.

Bottom left of your cable box is the bottom red on your tv.
And match white to white.

Or get an HDMI cable.

You need to set your TV up too to use component in (not composite). Check the above link for the manual.
posted by bensherman at 11:49 AM on August 14, 2012


Also: I tried with the channels 2, 3, 4, HDMI, Component, and PC.

Is there no "composite" input channel? Like, bensherman said, "component" and "composite" are two different things, and your cable box only does composite. If you're plugged in via composite and the TV is on component, it won't work.
posted by griphus at 11:49 AM on August 14, 2012


I just had a very similar problem with Comcast when I got cable recently.

I called (well, technically I used the live chat online, but I don't know what your options are with Time Warner) and said the following:

1) You didn't send me enough/the correct parts in my self-install box.
2) I need you to send me [explicit list of things, including the exact type of cables and how long they needed to be]
3) If you charge me anything for it, I will cancel my TV service because I don't care enough about cable to jump through your hoops to get it.

[They decided that this was something that would require someone to come do a home-install to assess the situation, which would cost some amount of dollars.]

4) No, that's ridiculous. I am not going to pay Comcast because you couldn't send me the correct parts in the first place. Someone needs to come fix this problem, and the install fee needs to be comped, or I WILL cancel my service.


Three days later I had someone come to my house and install everything, bring new (correct) cables, and wait around until it was completely hooked up and working before they left. And it cost me nothing.

Cable companies suck. You HAVE to be a demanding ass to get them to do what you're paying them to do. There is no reason you should have to have so much headache (and waste an AskMe question!) over a service that you're paying them to provide.

Good luck!
posted by phunniemee at 11:50 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


On the cable box:
RIGHT ROW, TOP TO BOTTOM: green, blue, red.
plug these into:
from top to bottom, green, blue, red,
on your TV.

That's your video signal. Then plug the red and white pair into the remaining red and white, and that's your audio.

Or, yeah, a single HDMI cable.
posted by sportbucket at 11:52 AM on August 14, 2012


Is there no "composite" input channel? Like, bensherman said, "component" and "composite" are two different things, and your cable box only does composite. If you're plugged in via composite and the TV is on component, it won't work.

Correct, just "component."

On the cable box:
RIGHT ROW, TOP TO BOTTOM: green, blue, red.
plug these into:
from top to bottom, green, blue, red,
on your TV.

That's your video signal. Then plug the red and white pair into the remaining red and white, and that's your audio.


Yes, that's how it is hooked up now, and has been prior to me making my askme, but it did not work.

I ALSO FORGOT TO MENTION that the cable box lists four formats (480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i). It's currently on (480i) and when I hit the format button beneath it, it does not change.
posted by mreleganza at 11:59 AM on August 14, 2012


You've probaly already done but, here's a link for the instructions for you TV. You can look at the quickstart guide. You want page 3. Ignore the "dvd recorder" in that diagram.

1. Turn everything off.
2. Plug the coax from the wall into the cable box.
3. Plug another coax from the cable box into the TV.
4. Plug the red/green/blue cable into the corresponding holes on the cable box. That's the 2nd column on your linked diagram.
5. Plug the other red/green/blue into the TV in one of the unmarked slots.
6. Turn everything on.
7. When the cable box is fully on, if you don't see anything, try pressing the "source" button and cycle through all the source options. See the section marked "Select source" on page 7 of the quickstart guide. I don't think going to channel 3 works anymore.
posted by hooray at 12:03 PM on August 14, 2012


Ugh, that first sentence should read: You've probably already done this, but here's a link for the instructions for your TV.
posted by hooray at 12:06 PM on August 14, 2012


Okay, based on the instruction manual for your TV, it treats component and composite at the same input for some reason, so in this (confusing) case "component" is the right setting.

So now you've got it hooked up correctly, you have the right input selected and nothing is happening? What does it show on the cable box? Can you turn it on and off/switch channels/etc?

Also, keep it set it to 1080i.
posted by griphus at 12:10 PM on August 14, 2012


Oh! Just as a test, do you have any component (Yellow/Red/White) cables laying around? If you do, try plugging the yellow into the "Y" jack (pg. 9 of the manual) and the red/white audio where they should go and see if that works. If it does, your composite cable might just be busted.
posted by griphus at 12:15 PM on August 14, 2012



Okay, based on the instruction manual for your TV, it treats component and composite at the same input for some reason, so in this (confusing) case "component" is the right setting.

So now you've got it hooked up correctly, you have the right input selected and nothing is happening? What does it show on the cable box? Can you turn it on and off/switch channels/etc?

Also, keep it set it to 1080i.


The front of the cable box says channel "3" and has 480i lit up. That's it. Underneath the 480i, there is a "format" button. The instruction manual says I can use this button to change the format. But when I do, nothing happens, it just stays on 480i. Dammit, I wonder if I will need a new box.
posted by mreleganza at 12:21 PM on August 14, 2012


You have an HDTV so that "format" thing is irrelevant right now. The only reason I mentioned it was that keeping it on 1080i gives you the best resolution coming out of the cable box.

The instruction book for the cable box (from which I can't copy and paste) says you can cycle between output settings by hitting "MENU" on the front panel. Have you tried that? Make sure the output setting on the cable box matches where you're inputting on the TV. The option for composite should be called "YPbPr" according to the manual.
posted by griphus at 12:29 PM on August 14, 2012


Griphus, first of all, I really appreciate the help you are giving me here, thanks very very much.

Second, to answer your question, nothing happens (either on the tv or the display panel on the cable box) when I hit menu. Tried with HDMI, component, pc, and channel 3.

I'm having support chat with motorola too right now, we'll see if that bears fruit.

In addition to the component cords, I could also plug a coaxial cable from the tv to the cable box. I tried that on its own (see my op) with no success and the cable co made it sound like an either/or set up between the coaxial cable to the box from the tv and the coaxial cable from the box to the tv. should i try having them both in at the same time?
posted by mreleganza at 12:49 PM on August 14, 2012


No, having them in at the same time will just confuse things. I've never plugged coax into an HDTV (because there's always a higher quality choice, which is probably what the cable people were talking about) but I guess it is worth a shot. It might show up on channel 3, but, again, I haven't used coax in years and years, and never with an HDTV.

Do you have a DVD player or digital camera or something you can plug into the component/composite connection to see if that works?

Any reason you don't want to do HDMI?
posted by griphus at 1:03 PM on August 14, 2012


mreleganza, are you sure that you're actually on an HD channel at the moment? If you're watching a SD channel, the box may well sit in 480i.

I think that you should have cox from the wall to the cable box and HDMI from the cable box to the TV. You should set the TV to its HDMI input and then leave it alone. Then you know that you've established that, and you can narrow down what's going on everywhere else.

If you try to have everything plugged in, you're trying to troubleshoot everything all at the same time. You want to pick one thing at a time and work on that thing.

FWIW, I have been a comcast installation tech.

Have you been able to call the cable company and have someone on the phone verify that they can see your cable box on the network? The first thing I'd do on every trouble call is plug in my cable tester at the outlet in question and see what the signal is like.

Even without that signal though, you should be able to get some kind of a test or configuration screen to come up on your TV - like if the cable signal is bad, you should get a screen saying "bad cable signal" or something similar.
posted by kavasa at 1:04 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And just to be super explicit, here's a step by step test to make sure everything's connected:

1) coax to cable box connected securely
2) HDMI to TV connected securely
3) Power to cable box and TV
4) Cable box on
5) TV on
6) Get the TV's remote, NOT the comcast remote
7) Look for an "input" or "source" button
8) Use that button to scroll through inputs until your "HDMI" input comes up
9) You should see something at this point

This is the very first thing you need to do - don't worry about the "format" button or anything else, just make sure that the cable box turns on and talks to the TV and the TV understands.
posted by kavasa at 1:07 PM on August 14, 2012


Do you have a DVD player or digital camera or something you can plug into the component/composite connection to see if that works?

Just tried with the only thing I have available, an old nintendo 64. It has a red, white and yellow cord. the back of my TV has two red, a white, a green, and a blue slot. It also had a yellow slot off to the side.

I tried it with the yellow cord in and out, and the red cord in either red slot in addition to the white slot of course. Nothing got a nintendo picture up, using all configuration of cords and on all reasonable channels (2, 3, 4, video, component, HDMI, PC)


The ONLY thing indicating that the cable box and the TV are communicating is when I have the coaxial cable (as opposed to the composite/component cords) in..........I get very faint static on channel 3, rather than the ("no signal" message from my tv that I get on every other channel, or on channel 3 when I don't have the coaxial cable plugged in). No menu pop up though (that is, the menu button on the cable box..the menu on my tv remote control works but doesn't give me any relevant choices).


I would be happy to get an HDMI cord and in fact will do so today, Radio Shack cost be damned, if the community is pretty sure that will solve the problem. As it is, I cannot even get a menu screen for my cable box. That made the motolo live chat guy think my box is broken (although he didn't have me try ANYTHING).
posted by mreleganza at 1:30 PM on August 14, 2012


Yellow goes in the top red slot, red goes in the bottom red slot. The yellow slot off to the side is something totally different.
posted by griphus at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2012


If the HDMI cable doesn't work, I'd go with busted box as well. If that's the case, raise hell as per phunnieme above.
posted by griphus at 1:47 PM on August 14, 2012


Yellow goes in the top red slot, red goes in the bottom red slot. The yellow slot off to the side is something totally different.

Tbanks...alas, did not work. Off to get an hdmi cable.
posted by mreleganza at 2:00 PM on August 14, 2012


I think your box is set to HDMI out. You maye be able to fix this by hitting the menu button when the power is off. I had this DVR, and while I can't remember the exact sequence of commands, you need to change the output of the box.

The inputs on your TV will be anything but HDMI or any channel.

Comcast should be able to walk you thru this over the phone.
posted by bensherman at 3:42 PM on August 14, 2012


BTW people, it's Time Warner, not Comcast.

Anyway, got an hdmi cable, didn't work.....there's an "info" button on the cable box that when pressed does bring up a parental control display on the TV (only tried this with the HDMI cable in, I think). None of the other buttons on the cable box bring up a screen.

So, a technician is coming out Saturday.
posted by mreleganza at 4:46 PM on August 14, 2012


Sucks! I'm sort of invested in this mystery now, so if you can update us after the tech shows up, that'd be awesome.

Also, I suggest you return the HDMI cable. If you end up wanting to do it via HDMI instead of component (which I suggest mainly because it's so much simpler to hook up) buy the cable from Monoprice.
posted by griphus at 4:56 PM on August 14, 2012


Yeah, that's interesting. It's good that a screen did pop up - that means you for certain had the cable box talking to the TV.

Are you in a single family home or an apartment? Newer construction or old? Because if you're at a pre-2000s single family dwelling, the coax wiring is probably an unruly ratnest of cable and satellite wiring from varying decades, and whatever the tech activated at the pole doesn't necessarily correspond to wiring that connects with the outlet you're using.

If it's an apartment, depending on construction/wiring that can all be an issue as well.

I ran into some crazy weird wiring there, stuff cobbled together by three decades' worth of techs doing installs, upgrades, and downgrades mingled with satellite stuff and homeowner DIY stuff.
posted by kavasa at 5:48 PM on August 14, 2012


I'm in an apartment complex, not sure how old it is.

I also get my internet through time warner which is hooked up to the coaxial outlet on the wall. When the tech set that up, he couldn't get the wireless router to work. I basically told him not to worry about it because I don't need to take my laptop to different parts of the apartment. So I just use the modem plugged into the coaxial outlet and have the modem wired to my laptop. It has always worked fine.

So I really suspect it's the box, especially since I can only get a screen up with one button, and it doesn't toggle through the HD choices on the "format" button. And I will update this thread once the technician comes out.
posted by mreleganza at 6:00 PM on August 14, 2012


It's always a possibility. I personally only rarely ran into bad boxes - it was almost always wiring - but that doesn't mean your box isn't an issue. They do happen.

Good luck with the tech!
posted by kavasa at 6:33 PM on August 14, 2012


This won't get you any of the fancy channels, but what happens if you plug the coax directly into the TV and bypass the cable box? Do you get anything?
posted by MegoSteve at 7:08 PM on August 14, 2012


Interesting idea....several channels come in very poorly/staticy, but they correspond with my cable's channel lineup. Interestingly, the reception seems better if the coaxial cable is loose.
posted by mreleganza at 8:10 PM on August 14, 2012


Don't know if you're still checking the thread, but that sounds like signal sucks.

Just to be sure: since you're running a cable modem and your HD box off of one outlet, you've got a splitter in your unit. It probably looks like this.

Have you got everything connected such that the connector on the top in that photo is going to the wall, and your modem/HD box are connected to the bottom?
posted by kavasa at 10:26 PM on August 15, 2012


I can't see the photo, it's coming up as 403 forbidden but that might have something to do with the ancient browser I have to use at work.

The outlet in my apartment has two coaxial sockets on the same panel (much like a traditional electric outlet...perhaps there's a splitter behind the wall panel); one is occupied by my internet cable, which runs very well from either socket. I have also tried both sockets for my TV cable running directly to the TV (per MegoSteve's idea) and they are both crrrrrrap towards that end, only a few channels come in, very staticky. There's old paint all over both sockets and the panel is coming loose from the wall (although not enough to let me see behind it)

The cable co also sent me a splitter which I haven't used because I have the two sockets. They're allegedly coming out on Saturday, I'll keep the thread posted.
posted by mreleganza at 11:01 AM on August 16, 2012


Yeah, there's probably a splitter behind the wall plate. The fact that the modem runs fine on both outlets makes me think that there's a no-video trap where your unit is connected to the tap. That would make a lot of sense for an HSI-only customer that moved up to HSI + TV: whoever set up the self install probably didn't see that they needed to roll a truck to remove the trap (this is pretty common).

The guy will probably show up, plug in his tester, leave your unit for a few minutes to get rid of the trap and then come back and everything will be fine.
posted by kavasa at 7:21 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boom, you nailed it Kavasa. I finally have cable today. Thanks for your help everyone!
posted by mreleganza at 2:02 PM on August 18, 2012


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